On a rainy, gloomy afternoon, a pitch that was flat and carpeted like that of Old Trafford, conditions perfect for quick crisp passing, Stanmore were up against Hinton Reserves in Enfield in what promised to be a spectacular mid table battle.
The team was led by Gibran in the absence of club captain Hussein Pirbhai. Some stern words by the Manager, recitation of Dua Faraj and we were set to go! Stanmore started off playing 4-3-3 and were quickly put under immense pressure with 2 shots on goal in the first 5 mins, the second of which being a world class save by Stanmore’s finest keeper. In fact, a scout from Sheffield United approached Coach Ali asking for the name of our keeper only to turn away in disappointment after being told “Tauseef Kanji, 46 years old”. The resulting corner was whipped in by Hinton, a poor headed clearance by AmirAli, led to a shot from outside the box. The ball took a couple of deflections and was tapped in from 5 yards. 5 mins later, Hinton were through on goal again and made it 2-0 in the first 15 mins of the game.
Conceding early has become all too common and something Stanmore need to improve on. Coach Ali changed the formation to a diamond with 2 up top. This got Stanmore back into the game. Husgul wins the ball on the halfway line, plays AmirAli in on the right wing who is one on one with the defender on the edge of the box. He takes his man on but was brought down resulting in a penalty that was calmly slotted into the keepers left. 2-1 to Hinton with 15 mins to go until half-time. Stanmore on top and applying pressure on Hinton. Gibran, whose heat map covered every blade of grass on the pitch played Husgul through on the right wing. He cuts it back to Abbasali who has a first time shot resulting a top class save by the Hinton keeper on his near post. The resulting corner whipped in by Maz, hang time from Abbasali like that of Lebron, heads it just over the post. 3 mins to half time and Hinton score again making it 3-1 going into the break.
The Second half starts with Stanmore outplaying Hinton in every aspect of the game. AmirAli intercepts a pass, and finishes a one on one making it 3-2 to Hinton with 35 minutes to go. Hinton begin applying the pressure but Stanmore’s back 4 and keeper extremely resistant in keeping them at bay. Some last ditch tackles, clearance of the line, world class reflexes by Tauseef showed pure heart, determination and love for the badge. Alas, Hinton broke through and scored another 2 ending the game 5-2 to Hinton. All in all, a well fought battle in a game whereby the score line did not do justice to the game. Man of the match, Tauseef Kanji.
Written by Amirali Merali